Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Lite review of GURPS 3rd Edition Lite Rules - Hellboy

There was a recent thread over at - RPG's you really want to like... but can't. This got me thinking of which system fits this description for me. I recently picked up the Hellboy Sourcebook/RPG powered by the GURPS rule system 3rd edition lite rules. Basically the Hellboy book is a complete game on its own with full rules and everything. I was excited to get it, and I'll admit that Free Comic Book Day fueled the purchase more than a little. Insightful readers may guess where this post is going...

Hellboy is one of my favorite comic book properties. It combines superheroics with the Lovecraft Mythos for some very dark pulp action. It's basically the perfect setting for an RPG.  I'd also been thinking about trying to at least learn the GURPS system. It's a big generic rule set that was a glaring blind spot in my gaming knowledge. It's got a bit of a reputation for taking a ton of time for character creation, and after reading through Hellboy, I can see why.

I can't wrap my mind around why the built the system the way they did. I like the base mechanic of rolling three d6 and trying to score equal to or under your ability score, but I hate the character sheet. It starts as something simple - there are only four base stats and no powers specifically you have to choose from. From there you get a bunch of points and just have to but all your feats and skills individually. There are a TON of skills - way too many for my taste. You have to understand that I'm a D&D 4e player that thinks D&D 3.x had way too many skills. Its like they designed the game to be as complicated as possible. I like games where skills are very generalizable, GURPS does not match this description at all.

I bet some people like this, but I know my players wouldn't, and I know I wouldn't enjoy running it either. When you consider our first game was a horror game that generates characters by answering short-answer test questions about yourself, it shouldn't be a surprise that the very detail-oriented GURPS rule set (and this is the LITE version, don't forget!) wouldn't work for us. I will say this though - it's a fantastic sourcebook for the Hellboy universe. I also ended up picking up a couple of 3rd Ed. GURPS book along with Hellboy (they're super cheap at Noble Knight - click the banner above to find them!) that also give some great insight into general gaming topics. I don't regret picking up any of these books since they've got a lot of great original material in them. I could easily see playing a Hellboy game using Savage Worlds and the sourcebook, for example. I just wouldn't suggest trying to use the actual mechanics of GURPS is all.


  1. GURPS is a fine game. It's just not for you, and that's fine.

    GURPS Hellboy was impressive in that it demanded a lot of the mechanics and GURPS was able to deliver and fit them all in that nice little book and still have a very strong setting. I don't know if Savage Worlds could stand up to the wacky gonzo stuff that happens in the Hellboy-verse, but I wish you well.

  2. Thanks Doug! I could definitely see GURPS working for a lot of people. As a generic system (with the word in its title afterall), it's very attractive. For me personally, its just a little too "gamey." Of course this might all change if I ever get the chance to play versus GM a game of it.

    Agreed completely on the comments for the Hellboy book. It's a very solid product - one of the better RPG books out there. If more license games were put together like Hellboy, they'd see a lot more success.

  3. I agree with GURPS totally. But GURPS sourcebooks are great and can be used as inspiration for other games or just for a good read.


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